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QUIZ: Contemporary Irish Writers    

James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Samuel Beckett, Iris Murdoch, William Trevor, Seamus Heaney, among a host of others, dominated twentieth-century Irish literature. Our quiz focuses partly on those who gained recognition during the last half of the century and partly on the new wave of millennials, who are free to write without the encumbrances of religion and nationalism. They revel in that freedom and the work being produced is phenomenal. Try your hand at guessing the writers and you’re in the running to receive a 30-euro (£23 / $33) gift certificate to spend at Amazon; in case of a tie, a name will be drawn. Deadline: August 1, 2022


Name the writer

1. This Irish writer has always had a close affinity to Barcelona.  He even wrote a book about it.

2. She is best known for a novel turned to film, but she also wrote a historical fiction based on the true story of a murdered 19th-century cross-dressing frog catcher.

3. He wrote a short story about a man, isolated and disoriented by the Covid lockdown, who went for a walk and began picking up discarded masks and putting them on, one after another,  until his ears hurt.

4. From Cork, he once wrote a short story about a young fisherman who must dig a grave for his daughter as he reminisces about his late father and a Chinese tale.

5. One of the foremost millennial writers, this author’s latest novel includes extensive epistolary elements, such as emails.

6. This writer’s most famous novel, winner of numerous awards including the International Dublin Literary Award, was actually set in New York City.

7. The author wrote a short story about a family man who felt “unmoored,” so much so that he wondered if the sun might not bother to stop its descent and journey back to summer and the middle of the sky.

8. Another millennial, graduate of Trinity College, impressed both readers and reviewers with her debut novel, which depicts how life goes on in the wake of grief and loss.

9. In this author’s latest novel, a character from nearly 30 years ago reappears, speaking from behind bars.

10.  The author begins this novel in the early 70s when a young woman disappears from her rural town. Half a decade later she returns, but we have no answers as to why she left.  Not until the closing pages, that is.

11. This young author, who identifies as queer, set her debut novel in Hong Kong, where the young Dubliner protagonist teaches English.

12. This author’s debut short-story collection about bouncers, petrol station attendants, minor criminals and such won awards. One of the stories appeared in The Barcelona Review.  His second collection came out in March of this year.

13. In one of the stories in her debut collection, a fourteen-year-old girl tries to seduce a tradesman her parents have hired, concluding with the girl naked in his trailer, waiting to surprise him.

14.  Set in a Catholic boarding school in Dublin, this author began his novel with the death of one of the students.

15.  This beloved writer, author of numerous works including sixteen novels, died in 2012; thus, her last novel was published posthumously. It broke the record for pre-orders on Amazon.

16. Author of a series of three novels about the “unholy trinity” of Cork’s sleazy underbelly.

17. This writer won the Man Booker Prize for her third novel, making her the first Northern Irish writer to win the award.

18. Author of four crime novels, she has twice won Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

19. In this author’s latest novel, the protagonist’s classmates start dying. Then, one by one, they return to haunt her.

20. You know him best for film, but he has published an impressive range of fiction as well, including an award-winning debut collection of short stories.

21.  She writes hilariously about serious topics such as drug abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence. Last year, the Irish Book Awards cited her as “Author of the Year.” The Barcelona Review carries a story of hers in our archives.

22. In a fairly recent novel by this author, an Irish émigré flees to Canada and then America to escape the Great Famine. In America he befriends a man and the two fall in love, working first, as young boys, as cross-dressing entertainers and then enlisting in the army and taking part in both the Indian Wars and the American Civil War.

23.  If it’s not broken – I chanted silently in rhythm to our steps – then break it.  If it’s broken, don’t fix it.  If it’s fixed, break it again, break it more, wreck it. Wreck everything, and for no reason whatsoever  . . .

24.  This author has been around for a while, but still going strong.  He recently wrote a novel set in the Basque region of Franco’s Spain where an Irish couple is visiting. The wife says to her husband that it’s a lot like Ireland: “It rains all the time, everywhere is green, and everyone is Catholic. You will love it.”  He didn’t. 

25. This author’s debut novel is set in west Ireland in 2053 where feuding gangs fight for control of the city. Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award.

26.  And last of all, this grand dame of Irish letters published her first novel in 1960 and her most recent in 2019.  She is 91 and going strong.  Colum McCann said of her that she has been “the advance scout for the Irish imagination” for over fifty years.

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